Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lonar Crater Lake, Salt Water/Soda Lake! But Ducks Swim Here!

I had mentioned in my earlier posts about our road trip to Ajanta, Ellora caves (posts are yet to be written!) and other places here and here.  I should have written about the places we visited one by one just as we saw them.  I didn't do it... I seem to write randomly; wrong decision!

We started from Chennai.  It was December end and so we had booked hotel rooms in Hyderabad, Aurangabad etc. for the New Year holidays, before we started.  On other days we looked for hotels in the net, went in and stayed for the night. This way, we saw many places on the way, as we wished! Just the three of us, I, my husband and son.  Our driver was driving.  This was the first trip we travelled like this, without pukka planning! But we enjoyed.

On our way from Nizamabad to Aurangabad, we came across this lake (thanks to the net!).  It was nearly 4 pm when we reached this place.  The small towns we crossed, Hingoli, Nanded, etc. had very narrow, crowded, dusty streets.  I have never seen places like these in the "northern" part of India earlier.  But everything is interesting for me! I like watching people and so never get bored!

We had an interesting lunch at a restaurant, Vatika, at Hingoli on the way. It was looking beautiful with a nicely decorated garden with designer trees etc.! A quirky bearer there said that they would specially cook vegetarian food in separate vessels for us! We had our food (which was decent) in the open garden with a cat (who resembled our Goalie) for company. However, while the restaurant looked beautiful from the outside it didn't have a proper toilet! Four stone slabs for the floor and four tin sheets on the sides with no roof! This was their toilet for LADIES and gents had a designated corner in a lawn in the rear, it seems.  We never expected this...but no other good restaurant was nearby and we already had our food! The owner promised my husband that a new toilet would be there in another two months and asked us to come there again!

The beautiful restaurant we visited, which had no toilet! Typical India!
I have never heard of this place, Lonar, before. My son had planned to visit here.  This lake is in the border town, Buldana, in Maharashtra, near Aurangabad. We had started seeing Marathi boards after Hindi and Telugu when we came near the border to Maharashtra!

Let me tell you about my impression about this lake. Then, to our friend, Wiki's details.  The narrow muddy road to this lake is deserted, nearly.  We could see some dry fields on our way.  Then we saw this lake.  It looked like a big pond.  One watch tower with rickety steps was there.  I was wondering why we came to this dry, dusty place.  Son asked me to go up the ladder, in which some rods/steps were missing!  Husband never experiments but I do! Then, son told me the importance/the story of this lake from the landing of the watch tower!

Wiki says:

Lonar is the world's third largest crater. It has its genesis nearly 50,000 years ago, when a 2 million-ton meteorite impacted the earth to create a depression 1.83 kilometers in diameter and 150 meters deep. Lonar Lake is a saltwater lake, which was created by a meteor hitting the Earth during the Pleistocene Epoch. The impact crater thereby formed, is the only hyper velocity meteoritic impact crater on basalt rock. A lake that evolved in the resulting basaltic rock formation, is both saline and alkaline in nature.

Another wiki link says: 

A series of low hills surround the basin which has an oval shape (almost round) with circumference at top of about 8 km (five miles). The sides of the basin rises abruptly at an angle of about 75°. At the base, the lake has a circumference of about 4.8 km (three miles).

Now, to the pictures, we had taken there:

Lonar Lake, Buldana, Maharashtra
Located in Buldana district of Maharashtra, this fascinating lake is believed to have been created over 5o,000 years ago due to a meteor impact which formed a depression 1.83 kilometers in diameter and 150 meters deep. Apart from the splendid beauty of the lake and a few treks, the place is famous for several temples like Daitya Sudan temple and Kamalija temple located around the lake. The lake is both saline and alkaline in nature and the historical documents say that the lake produces all the elements to make glass and soap. - See more at:

Lonar Lake, Aurangabad. The above two pictures were taken on 29.12.14 when we were there.  The banks do not look like a jungle here. 

This picture is taken from Wiki.  The date is mentioned as September '12. Full of greenery! Different types of trees are there in separate rings, it seems! The place is home to many animals and rare birds!
Wiki says: The slopes are covered with jungle interspersed with teak trees. A belt of large trees about a mile broad runs all round the basin; this belt is formed of concentric rings of different species of trees. A ring of date-palms followed by a ring of tamarind trees (nearly 1.6 km or a mile broad) leads to a ring of babul trees, bounded on the inside by a belt of bare muddy space.
I am climbing the rickety old steps of the watch tower! A couple of rods were missing!

Not many trees are seen here now.

The Kamalaja devi temple seems to be very close to the lake! Looks very ancient!

A closer look at the temple. I read that people from the surrounding villages come here to attend the temple festival.  They leave all the plastic bags etc. on the bank,  which is not good for the lake.  
One more view of the lake. 
The other side of the lake.

Another panoramic view of the lake. on all the pictures to view them clearly....

We saw a lone duck here, in this salty, alkaline/soda water.  People used to make soap in ancient days, it seems.
Wiki says: The historical document called the Ain-i-Akbari (written about C.E. 1600) states:

These mountains produce all the requisites for making glass and soap. And here are saltpetre works which yield a considerable revenue to the State, from the duties collected. On these mountains is a spring of salt water, but the water from the centre and the edges is perfectly fresh.

The lake was first mentioned in ancient scriptures such as the Skanda purana, the Padma purana and the Ain-i-Akbari.

Buldana district in Maharashtra, where the lake is located, was once part of Ashoka's empire and then of Satavahana's.  The Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas also ruled this area. During the period of the Mughals, Yadavas, Nizam and the   British, trade prospered in this area. Several temples found on the periphery of the Lake are known as Yadava temples and also as Hemadpanti temples (named after Hemadri Ramgaya).

Though this is a salt water lake, it is surrounded by trees and so, looks like a forest. It is a residence to many types of rare birds and animals!

Wiki also says: 

The modes of formation are also entirely different and it is practically certain that the Lonar salts are derived from an unknown source in the bed of the lake. It is true that water is continually flowing into the lake and that except by evaporation there is no loss. The main feeder stream could not however supply this amount of alkali nor could the other smaller supplies coming in during the rains, for on all sides of the lake vegetation is abundant, particularly where the main stream flows in continuously. Were any quantity of alkali present in this water, vegetation would suffer considerably and, with exception of a few varieties of plants, eventually die out entirely.
Sun had started setting down and we left the place at last! This was on the left side of the lake.  We noticed some 6-8 peacocks on the opposite side of the lake, which looked like a barren land.

EDITED TO ADD, THE NEXT DAY: My son said that there is a Maharashtra Government's MTDC hotel nearby where tourists can stay and visit this place.

I read this article about this crate today with more beautiful photographs.

Updated on 12/6/2, read...


KParthasarathi said...

A big Wow.Such an excellent and informative article on Lonar lake.With its interesting background and scenic beauty,why is it,the place is not developed into a tourist spot with hotels/motels around.The photos embellished the post and gave us a glimpse oof the place.
The nice looking restaurant without toilet without toilet was amusing.
Were the roads good and safe for the long and tiresome journey.

Ramakrishnan said...

Nicely written.Interesting account of your experiences holding the readers attention....lovely pics of the lake and Vatika. Hope Modi's shauchalaya campaign is successfully implemented. "Toilets first Temples later"

Rama Ananth said...

Beautiful lake and beautiful sunset. I agree with you one must write immediately about the places visited, if we don't then it is forgotten.

Sandhya said...

KPARTHASARATHY: No, we didn't have much problem. Only one hotel was a bit crude. Otherwise we had a good, interesting trip!

Thank you, Partha Sir!

Sandhya said...

RAMAKRISHNAN RAMANATHAN: Yes, that was a good move by Modi!

Thank you, Ramakrishnan!

RAMA ANANTH: Yes! Thank god, we took lots of pictures and I was writing down in a diary at night, so that I won't forget important things!

Bikram said...

wowow you are indeed brave climbing that ..
lovely pics mam..

I missed a chance to go to aurangabad my uncle was a CO there and he kept saying i should come ..


Zephyr said...

This is a favourite spot for my younger son on his bike. I first heard about it from him and saw the lovely pics on some blogs. Your idea of taking things as they unfolded on your journey is the best way to travel. It is a lot more flexible and interesting.

Destination Infinity said...

You could have gone to the Temple - was it not accessible by car? The pic with trees looks very beautiful - wonder where the trees are now?

Destination Infinity

Sandhya said...

BIKRAM: Aurangabad has got many important places to visit...Even 4 days were not enough for us.

ZEPHYR: At one place, we had booked a hotel the previous day and the room looked good in the net. We reached the place at 12.30 at night because our car got punctured at the crude roads on our way to Aurangabad from Lonar lake. The room was so horrible that we planned to spend the night in the car. But the watchman in that hotel suggested to take a room at a business was called like that.. and it was very good. Adventures!

DESTINATION INFINITY: I had written that we reached the place at 4 pm. Proper road was not there to reach the is not there, the net says. Only foot path amongst the bush and trees. Only my son went down. It was dark in between the trees. He refused to take me with him:( and the passage was steep with stones and sand. I am not able to believe though! We couldn't see any road from the watch tower too.

sm said...

beautifully written and pics are very beautiful

Jeevan said...

Glad you visited the nature wonder and also admire your daring to climb that dangerous watch tower that loses few steps! A beautiful place/lake and great to learn more about the place I only just know. You captured some wonderful views... and it’s oblivious why u chose to write on this before going to other. What impresses and inspires comes first.

Krishna/കൃഷ്ണ said...

Good info and photos


Haddock said...

Good info. I vaguely remember reading about this somewhere but you have made it all very clear. The next time I pass this place, I will look it up.

Sandhya said...

sm: Thank you, sm!

JEEVAN: I never knew about this place before. I felt that this is unique though it hasn't got the normal attractions of a tourist place. Thank you, Jeevan!

Even a normal road is not there to reach down the lake!

KRISHNA: Thank you, Krishna!

HADDOCK: This is a unique place but not a very interesting place, I feel!

Shail said...

I can't believe I missed this post. Then it struck me, I was at Oman.
This is so very interesting. Amazing about the salt water. The photos are really good. Thanks for sharing. If I am lucky maybe some day I will see it too. :)

Sandhya said...

SHAIL MOHAN: Son went down and tasted the water and I was worried...I was watching through the camera:) He came up without any harm. No proper way was there to go down from the side we were watching. He went down through the bushes and it was evening, the sun had started going down. Husband was ore worried than me:) Since it was getting dark, we wanted to get to civilization. We had to drive through the narrow mud road and on the way, the car tyre got punctured! We had to look for a mechanic and we wanted tea very badly. I and husband had our tea in a liquor shop, open yard liquor shop! Imagine me sitting in a liquor (Kallu kada:) and drinking tea, watching 'people'! But I like to watch people, you know! It was fun, I still remember! Road trips are full of new new experiences!

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